Big data is everywhere. More and more companies are increasing analytics budgets to cull through enormous amounts of available information, whether it's to better understand visitor behavior on their website, stay up to date on their top customer support issues, or gain some other critical business insight.

Some 5.5% of marketing budgets are being spent on marketing analytics, with an expectation of an increase to 8.7% in the next three years, according to a recent CMO Survey; however, only 3.4% of senior marketers say they have the right analytics talent.

No matter what type of data puzzle you're trying to solve, it is vital to seek out a strong analytics team, whether internal or external to your organization, if you are to make sense of all the key trends and patterns hiding in your data.

So, how do you know whether your analytics team is effective? Here are eight key indicators.

1. Is There a Question?

Data is used for problem-solving. Without a problem to solve, there would be no purpose to data.

The first and most basic question that must be asked when starting an analysis is this: "What am I trying to solve for?" An analyst can be easily sidetracked when digging into vast amounts of data, and that question is critical for guiding that digging.

Of course, what question you ask depends on what business goal you are supporting. And that could be anything from "What city should we expand to next?" to "What new product feature would drive more sales?"

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image of Jessica Langdorf

Jessica Langdorf is VP, Digital Interactions Lab, at TouchCommerce (now part of Nuance Communications), a provider of omni-channel customer engagement solutions for market-leading brands. She is a Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) with an Award of Achievement in Web Analytics.

LinkedIn: Jessica Langdorf (Gammon)